The Winnipeg Jets are barely hanging on to bleak postseason hopes. The New Jersey Devils gave up on theirs a while back.
The rest of the regular season should be a barren wasteland for both teams, so it’s only fitting that if they play their scheduled game at Prudential Center on Tuesday night, it will likely be in front of very few, if any, paying customers.
A massive blizzard is expected to crush the area during most of Tuesday. Some forecasts are calling for at least 18 inches of snow, so it’s possible the NHL could postpone the game to Wednesday or cancel what is an inconsequential matchup between two teams without much of a chance at the postseason.
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If they do go at it, the Jets will be coming off a 5-4 road loss on Monday night to the Nashville Predators. The Jets jumped to a 2-0 lead, Patrik Laine scored his 33rd goal but the Predators rallied for the overtime victory that left the Jets eight points out of a playoff spot.
“It’s difficult to get excited,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “We can score some goals and we know that. We had a difficult time keeping them out of our net. I think we started right and had a good pace to our game. I didn’t like the number of times we didn’t get pucks in the third period; it took our offensive game away a little bit.”
The Jets were without defenseman Jacob Trouba, who was out with an upper-body injury after a bloody fight with the Calgary Flames’ Sam Bennett on Saturday. With Toby Enstrom (concussion) and Tyler Myers (lower body) also out, the decimated back end had a hard time with the Predators’ style of play.
“There are some good things with those guys that don’t play those kinds of minutes, and play really well, and some things you’ve got to get better at,” Maurice said of depth players getting more minutes. “But for guys that aren’t used to playing, you know this team has a really unusual style. There’s lots of seam plays; they’re pretty aggressive offensively. I think overall those guys did as best as they can.”
The Jets have lost four straight but their hard times have nothing on the Devils, who have lost 10 straight (0-8-2) to plummet to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Devils will miss the postseason for the fifth straight year, their longest drought since their first five seasons in New Jersey from 1982 to 1987.
The way the Devils have been playing — their last two losses have been to Colorado and Arizona, the only teams lower in the standings, in regulation — perhaps the best way to avoid an 11th straight loss is a blizzard.
“We said they should prepare today like they’re not going to come to the rink (for the morning skate),” Devils coach John Hynes said to The Record. “I think we’ll wait and see. I’m sure the league will be in contact with Winnipeg. If they get out (of Nashville) in time … but you never know how serious it will be. Hopefully, it’s not that serious.”
Cory Schneider is in the midst of his worst season since becoming an NHL regular with the Vancouver Canucks in 2010-11. Schneider has seen his save percentage crash to .911 after allowing four goals on 10 shots in the loss to the Coyotes on Saturday, but he’s trying to look on the bright side of things as the Devils play out their schedule.
“We’re trying,” Schneider said to The Record, referring to his team’s near comeback against the Coyotes after he was pulled. “We could’ve easily rolled over and packed it in. We felt we were going to win that game. We cut it to two. Once we get it to 4-3, there was a feeling we were going to come back and do it. It doesn’t make the loss OK or extending the streak OK by any means. But I think we showed some resolve that we want to end this thing.
“We want to get out of this slump and we’re working hard to do that so hopefully it will come in the next one.”